Villars v. VillarsAnnotate this Case
Richard Villars and Kathleen Villars were married in 1984, divorced in 2002. Richard served in the military for most of the marriage, first in the United States Air Force and later in the Alaska Air National Guard. Prior to filing their dissolution, the parties drafted a settlement agreement dividing their property such that each person was to receive half of the marital estate. The value of Richard’s military retirement benefits was not known at the time of dissolution because he had not yet qualified for benefits. However, Richard and Kathleen agreed to split the marital portion of Richard’s military retirement benefits 50/50 should Richard receive them. Richard began collecting his military retirement benefits in 2009 at the age of 48, twelve years earlier than he and Kathleen had expected at the time of dissolution. Kathleen asserted she was entitled to collect her marital portion of Richard’s military retirement benefits when Richard began collecting them. Richard disagreed, arguing that the parties intended Kathleen to collect only when Richard turned 60 years old. The superior court determined that the settlement agreement was unambiguous and the parties intended to divide equally the marital portion of Richard’s military retirement benefits when he began receiving them, not when he turned 60. The superior court ordered Richard to repay Kathleen 50% of the marital portion of the retirement benefits he had received to date. Richard appealed, arguing that the superior court’s finding on the parties’ intent was erroneous and that the retirement benefits were his separate property until he reached the age of 60. Richard further argued that the superior court impermissibly modified the settlement agreement. Because the findings of the superior court were not clearly erroneous and the superior court did not make an impermissible modification to the settlement agreement, the Supreme Court affirmed.